Friday, August 09, 2013

Friday Review: Family justice for all

Notable things this week:

Once again I shall begin with a tweet, this from Lucy Reed, who is clearly grateful for the MoJ's manful efforts to plug the gaping hole left by the abolition of legal aid:

The latest divorce statistics released by the ONS this week came with the revelation that the number of people aged 60 and over getting divorced has risen since the 1990s. However, this should not be entirely surprising, as the ONS tells us that the primary reason for the increase is... wait for it... the increasing number of people aged 60 and over living in England and Wales. Profound stuff.

There was more bad news for the Marriage Foundation this week with the publication of a poll that indicates that only a minority of young people who plan to start a family intend to get married first. I guess that this is also not that profound given the present economic climate - after all, the biological clock will not wait until financial security has been achieved.

Returning to the already much-discussed Lawson/Saatchi divorce, I was interested to read this post on the Family Matters blog, written by guest blogger and former Principal Registry employee Margaret Heathcote, regarding the speed with which Nigella obtained her decree nisi. She asks the important question: is there one standard of family justice emerging for the rich and influential, and another lesser standard for the rest? After examining the chronology of the Lawson/Saatchi divorce she concludes:
"... that either Baroness Shackelton is able to accelerate the administration of proceedings through her undoubted dynamism or commitment to her clients, or that the element of celebrity in this case had an overwhelming effect upon the speed with which the wheels of justice turned."
If, as she suspects, the latter, then that is a very sad state of affairs.

As I mentioned in a post on Wednesday, the Family Justice Board (remember them?) has published its Annual Report and Action Plan for 2013-15. I will make no further comment, save to say that there does seem to be a considerable overlap between the work of the Board and the work being done by the President and others to modernise the family justice system. I'm sure there is a perfectly good reason for this that my small brain hasn't grasped, but it does sometimes seem that, after years of inertia, there are now rather a lot of people who have a finger in the pie of reform.

Finally, Thursday brought the news that the Government is continuing its adoption drive by ploughing an extra £16 million into adoption charities. Let us just hope that the money is utilised to reduce the number of children awaiting adoption, rather than ending up in the pockets of charity executives...

Have a good weekend.

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